Monthly Archives: May 2013

Monday Morning Coffee

Washington Capitals v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four

May 13th, 2013

I’d like to thank the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for crushing the hopes and dreams of all Southern California hockey fans over the weekend.  The Ducks had two chances to close out the Red Wings, but instead, folded like a deck of cards.  A series win would have meant the Ducks and Kings would have an epic Southern California hockey showdown in round 2, but the Red Wings would have none of that after their 3-2 win in game 7 in Anaheim on Sunday night.

After last night’s game, Corey Perry was seen kneeling at center ice in disbelief.  He was probably thinking “I can’t believe I fooled this dumb asses into giving me $66 million when I can’t even score a goal in the playoffs.”  Then there’s coach Bruce Boudreau, who is notorious for putting together great regular seasons, followed by disappointing playoffs. Boudreau is the Marty Schotenheimer of hockey.  He’s never made it past the 2nd round with the Capitals, and consistently comes up short in game 7’s.

Meanwhile, the Kings are going to have home ice advantage in round 2 against the Sharks.  Do the Kings even know how to win a series with home ice advantage?  The last time they had home ice in a playoff series Pearl Jam was cool, and Bill Clinton had started banging interns.  Dustin “Pancakes” Penner scored one of the greatest playoff goals in Kings history on Friday, as time expired at the end of the 2nd period, and his club will need much more of that to beat the Sharks.

I think it’s safe to say the Angels season is already over, and the Dodgers probably aren’t too far behind.  The Halos are 10 games back in the AL West, and that’s after taking two of three against the White Sox over the weekend.  Now, Arte Moreno is starting to hear it from TJ Simers and his friends at the LA Times.  The more I watch this team, the more it’s becoming obvious that Mike Scioscia is now forced to deal with a mess that he didn’t create.  His sluggers aren’t producing like they should, and when they aren’t, they are incapable of executing his small ball style of play.  His starting pitchers are not only ineffective, but are tuning him out.  Last night, after CJ Wilson came out of the game in the 7th for giving up 3 runs, Scioscia repeatedly asked Wilson about his pitch selection, yet Wilson was lifeless in his response.  Good luck managing these guys the rest of the way Mike.

As for the Dodgers, I love the festive atmosphere in the clubhouse this weekend, after taking two of three from the worst team in the National League.  Their season should end this week after facing the Nationals, followed by the Braves in Atlanta.  Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke now have as many home runs as Matt Kemp, who has become a $165 million singles hitter.  The Dodgers need to find a way to get Yasiel Puig into their lineup with Kemp and Andre Ethier trying to pull their heads out.  Heck, even Clayton Kershaw has as many home runs as Kemp!

Lastly, my heart goes out to those three girls in Cleveland, who were tortured for 10 years by Ariel Castro.  Those three girls are extremely courageous.  I would definitely kill myself if I were ever held captive in Cleveland.



Hockey History Awaits

Voynov GW  Bonino Celebrates

May 9th, 2013

Just one win away from history.  My neighbors think I’m a lunatic from all the yelling and screaming I was doing last night after Slava Voynov scored the game winner.  They have obviously never witnessed playoff hockey, and have no idea what’s going on with the Kings and Ducks.

Jonathan Quick has been amazing.  He’s stopped 146 of 155 shots, and looks like the dude who carried the Kings last spring.  Drew Doughty is unbelievably valuable.  The guy just piles on the minutes, and is the backbone of the Kings defense. And who doesn’t love Justin Williams chasing down every loose puck??

Then there’s the resurrection of Kopitar and Carter.  Once those two scored in game 4, their entire game has returned to elite level.  Kopitar made not one, but two “Gretzky like” passes to set up two of the Kings three goals.  Carter hasn’t had much space to get off his lethal shot in this series, but he’s been finding ways to finish around the net.

Meanwhile, in Anaheim, the Ducks were locked up in another game with the Red Wings that was tighter than a Beyonce jump suit.  Poor Corey Perry.  The guy gets a wide open opportunity in the slot, and Jimmy Howard robs him.  Dude still can’t find the back of the net in the playoffs.  Good thing Bonino and Palmieri are stepping up.

Neither goaltender has been great in this series, but that’s been a much bigger problem for the Red Wings.  Howard was supposed to give the Wings an edge in this series, but he’s played more like Ron Howard.  The playoffs are all about grit and toughness, and the Ducks are getting it from guys like Bonino and Palmieri.

Now each team is just one win away from an epic showdown in the 2nd round of the playoffs, for the first time in the history of both franchises.  The Kings have won nine in a row at home, and will need to make it ten, or else they will have to go back to St. Louis for game 7.  I’ve said that home ice doesn’t matter in the playoffs, because the Kings should be able to win just one game away from home in a playoff series.  That’s only true if they win on Friday.

The Ducks need to go to Detroit, where they will need to avoid the distraction of hearing gun fire and crime in that crummy city.  Even though they have the luxury of playing a game 7 at home, home ice hasn’t meant much for either team in this series.  Take care of business fellas.  You’ve all got a date with destiny next week.


Monday Morning Coffee


May 6th, 2013

May just started, and it already feels like the 2013 baseball season is toast for the Dodgers and Angels.  Don Mattingly says he actually feels pretty good about his team after getting swept over the weekend against the Giants.  Imagine how bad things would really be if he didn’t feel good about his team!

The Dodgers have the 5th best batting average in the NL, and the 2nd best on base percentage, yet only the Marlins have scored fewer runs than them.  This team can’t hit when it counts, and I’m starting to question the legitimacy of Matt Kemp’s power numbers the last couple of years.

Things are even worse in Anaheim, where the Halos are off to their worst 31 game start in franchise history.  Everyone wants to blame Mike Scioscia for this disaster, but it isn’t really his fault that his starters can’t even give him 6 innings, or that Josh Hamilton is a $125 million scrub.  One could actually make a case that if Scioscia were the manager of the Dodgers, his small ball style would be far more effective in the NL, and if Mattingly were manager of the Angels, his ability to manage big names would make him more successful.

Even though the Kings won game 3 on Saturday night, the team can’t feel that great about their inability to impose their will against the Blues.  Jonathan Quick has been spectacular, but Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter haven’t scored since the first Iron Man was in theaters.   Apparently, Jake Muzzin needs to cost the Kings a game in this series before Daryl Sutter benches him for good.

The Ducks are catching a big break with the suspension of Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader.  Gotta love Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau telling it like it is: “The Wings are a good team.  We’re not playing the Florida Panthers here.”  With Abdelkader out, the Wings may be a lot closer to the Panthers, and the Ducks need to take take control of the series with a win tonight.

We can now add the Miami Dolphins to the list of teams that are using Los Angeles as leverage to get a new NFL stadium in their city.  Dolphins CEO Mike Dee told WFOR-TV in Miami that he has to have a public-private partnership in order for a new stadium to be built.    The NFL isn’t coming back to LA anytime soon, and any hope of it coming back disappeared when Tim Leiweke was fired by AEG, and took a job north of the border.

Finally, people need to stop crucifying the one writer who voted for Carmelo Anthony, instead of Lebron James for the MVP.  Nobody even knows what the criteria is for the NBA MVP award, so at the end of the day, you can make a case that one player is “more valuable” than another.  I’ve always thought the NBA needs a player of the year award, and an MVP award, but that will probably never happen because the league enjoys the MVP debate every year.




Clipper Catastrophe

Randolph Choking Blake


May 4th, 2013

Just another typical night on the LA sports scene.  The Clippers were expected to make a nice playoff run to build upon last season’s success, and then get punked in the first round by Memphis.  Oh there’s much blame to go around in this one!

It starts with Blake Griffin, who looked more like Kathy Griffin in this series.  Griffin averaged a pedestrian 13.2 points and 5.5 rebounds in this series, while only shooting 45%.  His counterpart, Zach Randolph, ate him for lunch by averaging 20.8 points, 8 rebounds, while shooting over 56% from the field.  For good measure, Randolph, also put his exclamation point on the series by putting Griffin in an MMA style choke hold in the 3rd quarter.

Then there’s Vinny Del Negro, who will likely be the first to take the fall for this debacle.  It took 5 games and 3 more quarters for Vinny to realize that his team should play some zone defense to try and slow down Z-Bo and Marc Gasol, who were beating his teams brains in.  For some reason, Del Negro thought it was a good idea to play Jamal Crawford only 12 minutes, which seems strange for a team desperate for some play makers outside of Chris Paul.

I guess it’s also pretty tough to win when you’re starting center is making $10 million a year, and is averaging 3 points and 6 rebounds.  You would think by year 3, Blake and DeAndre would be able to develop some real basketball skill, as opposed to just dunking.

Now there’s the real threat of CP3 leaving the Clippers in July, and bombing them back to expansionism.  Funny how Dwight Howard and Chris Paul have both refused to answer questions about their free agency all year, yet Howard is viewed by most people as a bad guy, and Paul is viewed as a good guy who will probably stay.  Both of these guys are definitely going to evaluate if there is a better situation for them elsewhere, and their identical post game comments after their final game suggest they are leaving the door open for a departure.

I still think Howard and Paul would probably even like to play with each other if the opportunity presents itself.  Depending on where the salary cap number is for next year, the Rockets may be able to come close to offering both of these guys max contracts.  So can the Atlanta Hawks, which are located in Howard’s hometown, and much closer to Paul’s home in North Carolina.  Be afraid Laker and Clipper fans….be very afraid.


Missing Person Alert!!!!

Missing Kings Stars

May 3rd, 2013

Has anybody seen the person missing in the photo above?  His name is Anze Kopitar, and he was last seen on March 23rd, at the United Center against the Blackhawks.  At one point he resembled an all-star center, however, some witnesses are claiming they have seen someone that looks like him getting destroyed by David Backes this week in St. Louis.

Every year Kopitar goes into a goal scoring coma from around game 35 until game 60.  Unfortunately for the Kings, that coincides with this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs because of the lockout shortened season.  If the Kings have any hope of coming back in their 1st round series vs the Blues,, Kopitar needs to wake up from his coma a little earlier than usual.

The Kings have been getting dominated physically.  Coach Daryl Sutter insists that he is completely comfortable with Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby, but those two defenseman have been completely rattled, and should be watching from the press box.  Matt Greene and Alec Martinez need to be inserted back into the lineup for these two kids immediately, or else the Kings will be making their plans for Cancun come Monday.

Meanwhile, what the hell were Trevor Lewis and Jarrett Stoll thinking  with under a minute left in the game?  Both of them got caught up ice, gambling to try to force a turnover.  In an instant, I felt like I was watching the LA Kings of the 1990’s, who were practically allergic to playing defense.

Then there’s Jonathan Quick.  Yes, he’s played like an elite goaltender over the last two games, but his miscue at the end of game 1, and his inability to come up with a save on Jackman’s routine shot turned out to be costly mistakes for the Kings.  In the Stanley Cup playoffs, you almost always have to have the best goaltender to win, and the Quick’s mistakes have come at the worst times.  Then again, the Kings aren’t leaving him much margin for error, since they haven’t even scored an even strength goal yet.




Finished By The Finnish Flash

Detroit Red Wings v Anaheim Ducks

May 1st, 2013

I can’t believe this dude is still playing.  I can still remember watching Selanne play against Gretzky and the Kings in 1992 at the Forum when he was a rookie.  19 years later he’s carrying the Ducks in the playoffs against the Red Wings, and he scored the game winner in game 1 vs Detroit to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead in their best of seven series.

Bruce Boudreau pushed the right button in game 1 by starting Jonas Hiller over Victor Fasth.  If there’s one advantage the Red Wings thought they had going into this series, it was having Jimmy Howard in goal.  But the Ducks put more pressure on Howard than Michigan alums put on their kids to attend their crummy school.

Corey Perry nearly “Clint Malarkchuk’d” Jimmy Howard in the 2nd period, with his drive to the net and shot to the head of the Red Wings goaltender.  I can’t remember an NHL season in recent memory with as many skate blades knocking guys in the face as this one.

This isn’t the same stacked Red Wings team that we’re used to seeing over the years.  They had to fight until the final day of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs, and their offense is carried by two players.  The Ducks may not have been able to score at even strength, but they played a great puck possession game, and their skilled players broke through on the power play.

If the Ducks, Kings, Sharks, and Blackhawks win their 1st round playoff series, The Ducks and Kings will meet in the 2nd round of the playoffs.  Can anyone imagine a better matchup in the Stanley Cup playoffs?  Those two teams would tear each other apart for seven games.  Then again, were talking about the Sharks coming up big in the playoffs.  Unlikely for a group that has perfected the art of choking around this time of year.



A Quick Turn of Events

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues

May 1st, 2013

The game looked like it was in the bag.  The Kings were on a 4 minute power play in sudden death overtime, and Jonathan Quick gave the puck away, and the game.  So the Kings are down 1-0 to the Blues in their best of seven 1st round series.  Did the Kings really deserve to win though?  Probably not.

No matter how much respect the Kings were saying they had for the Blues, they were well aware of the fact they have owned them for the past year, and had been beating them into the ground.  Daryl Sutter even said “a handful of guys” weren’t ready for the physical beating the Blues put on the Kings early.  I think he really meant that Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby didn’t expect to get their asses kicked as badly as they did.  The Blues were obviously tired of the Kings pushing them around, and that’s why they dominated the first two periods of play.

So a fiercely determined Blues team gave the Kings their best shot, and it resulted in a 2-1 win for St. Louis in overtime, which they were fortunate to win.  Yes, the Kings could have devastated the Blues by stealing game 1.  But if this is the Blues best shot, the Kings can easily take this series.

Jonathan Quick made 40 saves, and looked pretty close to the guy who dominated last spring.  The only goal he gave up in regulation was a power play goal, in which he made a spectacular initial first save on.  Quick also showed us that he was mentally tough last spring, bouncing back from any soft goals he allowed and carried the Kings at key moments.  No reason to think he can’t bounce back here.

This isn’t to say the Kings don’t have anything to worry about.  They’ll need Matt Green’s physical presence back in the lineup, and they’ll have to get a much stronger forecheck going earlier in the game to wear down the Blues.  They’ll also need to get Kopitar and their other big guns going, but LA has far more talent up front than the Blues.  If the Kings come out and match the Blues physicality on Thursday night, no reason to think they can’t tie this series up before heading back to LA this weekend.





Clipps On The Ropes

Griffin Towel

May 1st, 2013

The Clippers are blowing it.  Now that the Lakers have been eliminated, the Clipp Show has the chance to completely dominate the Jock Talk LA headlines for the next month.  Now it’s starting to look like they might only be getting attention for another week.

Lionel Hollins is coaching circles around Vinny Del Negro.  Since the Clippers took a 2-0 lead, Hollins has played more through Z-Bo and Marc Gasol, and managed to get the ball out of CP3’s hands on pick and roll plays.  Del Negro has been unable to adjust to the Grizzlies new game plan, and now his team, and his job, are on on the verge of elimination after getting punked on their home floor.

Those that say coaching means nothing in the NBA, and that it’s all about the players have no idea what they are talking about.  The playoffs are where we get to see who can actually coach and who can’t.  How about playing a little bit of zone to slow down the Grizzlies big men?  What about moving Chris Paul off the ball so he’s not so easy to double team? Del Negro needs to get creative quickly or else he’s going to be the first one to take the blame for the Clippers downfall.

As if things weren’t bad enough, now the Clippers have to deal with injuries to both Blake Griffin’s ankle and Chris Paul’s thumb.  Although both will probably play through the injuries, it certainly won’t help their chances.

The bigger issue for the Clipps is the lack of development that is now apparent in Blake Griffin’s game.  Griffin looks like a human highlight reel during the regular season, but is getting exposed as a player with limited basketball skill in the playoffs, especially when going up against two highly skilled big men.  Until Griffin learns to develop some post moves, and is a bigger threat in the pick and roll, the Clippers half court offense will continue to be ineffective.  By his third year in the league, there should have been more development.  That’s an adjustment that Vinny Del Negro can’t make.